Health

Commercial cooking elevates hazardous pollutants in the environment
March 24, 2010 09:25 AM - Michael Bernstein, EurekAlert! - Science News

SAN FRANCISCO, March 23, 2010 — As you stroll down restaurant row and catch the wonderful aroma of food — steaks, burgers, and grilled veggies — keep this in mind: You may be in an air pollution zone. Scientists in Minnesota are reporting that commercial cooking is a surprisingly large source of a range of air pollutants that could pose risks to human health and the environment. They discussed the topic here today at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

The Perils of Coffee
March 23, 2010 04:44 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

Coffee starts the days of many people. With some stomach irritation can prevent proper enjoyment of the brew. Scientists have reported recently the discovery of several substances that may be among the culprits responsible for brewing up heartburn and stomach pain in every cup. Their report, presented at the 239th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society, included the counter-intuitive finding that espresso, French roast, and other dark-roasted coffee may be easier on the tummy because these roasts contain a substance that tells the stomach to reduce production of acid.

Human health linked directly to forest health
March 23, 2010 09:31 AM - World Wildlife Fund, WWF

Gland, Switzerland – Environmental degradation is causing serious detrimental health impacts for humans, but protecting natural habitats can reverse this and supply positive health benefits, according to a new WWF report. "Our research confirms what we know instinctively: Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the planet," says Chris Elliot, WWF's Executive Director of Conservation.

Railroad Company to Pay $4 Million Penalty for 2005 Chlorine Spill in Graniteville, SC
March 22, 2010 09:43 AM - Dawn Harris-Young, USEPA

(ATLANTA­­ – March 8, 2010) Norfolk Southern Railway Company has agreed to pay $4 million penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and hazardous materials laws for a 2005 chlorine spill in Graniteville, S.C., the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

Air Quality is improving in much of the US
March 18, 2010 08:00 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

Do we really need all the regulatory programs at the federal and state levels of government? Do they really work to improve the quality of our air and water? Are they worth their cost in terms of regulatory burden and costs of compliance? In short, yes! To some extent, our regulatory programs are a trial and error affair. We can't always know the ultimate effectiveness of a new program nor its ultimate costs. We can't always predict the economic benefits of new regulations either since they invariably lead to innovation and generate new inventions and jobs. The US has been monitoring the quality of our air and water for decades, so we can track the effectiveness of our programs. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making the most recent data available.

EPA Makes Chemical Information More Accessible, and for Free
March 16, 2010 06:23 AM - Roger Greenway, ENN

The web has been a valuable source of information on the releases of toxic chemicals in our communities, and for citizens and environmental action groups to see what companies and facilities are emitting air pollutants, discharging water pollution, and generating hazardous wastes. Finding the information you were looking for was not always easy, and not always free. Now things are getting a little easier, and more information is obtainable for free. US EPA announced that it is providing web access, free of charge, to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory. This inventory contains a consolidated list of thousands of industrial chemicals maintained by the agency. EPA is also making this information available on Data.Gov, a website launched to provide public access to important government information.

Salt and Smog
March 15, 2010 02:46 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

The smell of sea salt at the beach is a pleasant thought for many beach goers. Wind and waves kick up spray sending salt (sodium chloride into the air. Most salt of this sort falls back into the sea or nearby beach. The bit of chloride lingering in the air can react with nitrogen oxides (NOx) to form nitryl chloride which is a forerunner of chlorine gas, the most reactive form of chlorine. Those gas can contribute to smog formation in coastal areas. However, in a surprise, researchers have found that this air chemistry thought to be restricted to sea spray occurs at similar rates in the air above Boulder, Colorado which is nearly 900 miles away from any ocean. What's more, local air quality measurements taken in a number of national parks across the United States imply similar conditions in or near other non-coastal metropolitan areas.

Green Cleaning Supplies
March 12, 2010 09:04 AM - Sierra Club Green Home

When we get out the rags and the wash buckets, we have the best of intentions. Cleanliness is a virtue, right? And healthy too! Well, if you use conventional cleaning products, perhaps not. Have you ever cleaned your shower or oven and then had teary eyes, burning nasal tissues, an itchy throat, a headache, or dizziness? Guess what? All of these symptoms and more could have been caused by chemicals commonly found in household cleaners.

Staying Young by Learning
March 10, 2010 07:18 PM - Andy Soos, ENN

An old proverb states that to stay young is to keep alert and active or: "An idle mind is the devil's workshop." University of California neurobiologists are providing the first visual evidence that learning promotes brain health — and, therefore, that mental stimulation could limit the debilitating effects of aging on memory and the mind. Using a novel visualization technique they devised to study memory, a research team found that everyday forms of learning animate neuron receptors that help keep brain cells functioning at optimum levels. These receptors are activated by a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which facilitates the growth and differentiation of the connections, or synapses, responsible for communication among neurons. BDNF is key in the formation of memories.

Attention Bikers - Google Maps is for you!
March 10, 2010 10:36 AM - Mary Catherine O'Connor, Wired

At long last, Google Maps has routes specifically for bikes. With the click of a mouse, the new feature allows you to plot the best (and flattest!) ride from Point A to Point B. Several cities, including New York, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Portland, Oregon, have bike-specific mapping sites. But Google is rolling it out in 150 cities nationwide and announcing it Wednesday at the 10th Annual Bike Summit in Washington, D.C. "This has been a top-requested feature from Google Maps users for the last couple years," says Shannon Guymon, product manager for Google Maps. "There are over 50,000 signatures on a petition."

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